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Pulwama Attack: Challenge of ensuring security without causing more hardships to Kashmiris

Krishnanand Tripathi

Following the death of 40 CRPF Jawans in the first ever car bomb attack in Kashmir valley on a security convoy, home minister Rajnath Singh has announced that civilian traffic will be restricted for some time during the movement of convoys of security forces. This reflects a clear departure form the present strategy as the security forces deployed in the state tend to avoid enforcing stringent measures that may inconvenience the ordinary Kashmiris.

Now, the security forces will have to strike a balance between their own security needs vis-a-vis any inconvenience caused to ordinary Kashmiris that may further alienate the local population. However, given the potential of another such attack, the government was quick to announce some restrictions on the civilian traffic during the movement of security convoys.

“Civilian traffic movement will be restricted for some time during movement of army and security forces convoys. This may cause inconvenience and I apologise for this but this is necessary for safety of Jawans,” home minister Rajnath Singh told media after a high-level security review meeting in the state capital Srinagar.

While speaking to Financial Express Online, a senior CRPF official blamed lack of restrictions on civilian traffic during the movement of security convoys that permitted the suicide bomber Adil Ahmad Dar to bring its vehicle close to the fifth vehicle in the convoy before triggering the blast.

In fact, as per the initial assessment, after reaching the highway, the bomber was able to drive his vehicle side by side to the CRPF buses in the convoy in the direction of its movement toward Srinagar to reach very close to the convoy commander’s vehicle before triggering the blast.

The fact that the suicide bomber was able to join and drive side by side of the convoy moving toward Srinagar indicates that the terrorists had planned the attack and prepared the vehicle well in advance.

Approaching the convoy from the opposite side would have reduced the damage as the highway has a road divider in the middle.

The decision to restrict civilian movement will minimise the chances of recurrence of such attacks but the strategy is fraught with the risk of further alienating ordinary Kashmiris as it will increase their daily hardships due to enforcement of stringent measures.